NM Cannabis Control Division files injunction against Albuquerque dispensary

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Cannabis Control Division filed its first-ever injunction this week against an Albuquerque dispensary. 

Officials say Sawmill Sweet Leaf on Mountain Road violated not one, but two major rules. They want to shut down operations as soon as possible.

It’s all about consumer safety. New Mexico’s cannabis regulations are designed to make sure the marijuana produced and sold across the state meets certain health and safety standards.

Officials with the Cannabis Control Division say Sawmill Sweet Leaf was selling products made outside of New Mexico. Therefore, they weren’t properly tested according to state laws.

That means they could’ve been exposed to harmful pesticides, drugs, or other contaminants.

Officials say the dispensary was also operating a closed-loop extractor even though it wasn’t licensed to do so. That specific piece of equipment has caused explosions in New Mexico before like one back in 2015.

“If we see something that is very severe, or receive repeat offenders, or we see out-of-state products, something that really does pose a threat to the health and safety of cannabis consumers, and particularly for medical patients, that’s when we really have to step in and go that disciplinary action route,” said Robert Sachs, a Cannabis Control Division attorney. 

This is not the first time the Cannabis Control Division has cracked down on out-of-state products. The agency revoked Paradise Distro’s operating license in July for reportedly selling products that were made in California.

Division leaders say more enforcement operations are coming.

Recreational marijuana sales began well over a year ago. So why is this increased enforcement just happening now?

Officials say they started ramping up enforcement operations late last year, but a recent influx of resources, and an updated state law are giving them some much-needed muscle.

“We’ve started our push for compliance for quite a bit now, and we’re starting to see the fruits of that labor,” said Sachs.  

Sachs says the agency has more tools than ever to go after cannabis businesses that aren’t following the state’s rules and regulations. 

“We have seven new compliance officers who have joined our team,” Sachs said. “So we’re just going to have a lot more boots on the ground, a lot more people with an eye towards what’s going on in the industry.” 

The division also has new legal strategies. State lawmakers updated the Uniform Licensing Act earlier this year, giving the division power to request injunctions against businesses that pose an immediate threat to public health and safety.

“If there is something that is super urgent, super immediate, that we really think as a threat, we can stop all operations of that licensee while that’s been resolved, and then we can currently go forward with disciplinary action. So it’s just one additional tool in the toolbox that we have,” said Sachs.  

The division is pulling back the curtain on its compliance efforts with a new dashboard on its website, showing the total number of violations, inspections, and enforcement actions since recreational marijuana sales began.

But Sachs says those are just numbers.

“We understand that this is a new industry, we understand that there are a lot of people coming from the illicit market who are not used to following rules,” Sachs said. “So you know, if someone is showing a good faith effort, the violations are not that severe, we’re willing to work with people.” 

A judge is expected to rule on the injunction next week.

Sachs says if approved, it will force the dispensary to close its doors while the division decides on a punishment. Punishments include a fine, a suspension, or even revoking the dispensary’s license.